Wilde Liebe? Or something?
October 4, 2012 4:19 AM   Subscribe

What are the German equivalents of the Savage Lovecast, This American Life or Judge John Hodgman? Doesn't have to be a podcast, but I do need to be able to listen online.

I'm trying to listen to more German radio and so forth, but by god are all the things I end up listening to dull. I don't even want to understand half of it, and if I hear anything more about Angela Merkel or the music scene in Munich I will kill somebody. Is there something I can listen to that's just people, talking about their own lives in a not-entirely-po-faced manner?

I don't live in Germany and it's not likely I'll go there in the next year. If the language used is relatively simple that's a bonus, but the priority is something that's bearable enough for me to be motivated to work out what's being said. Please. I'm drowning in stuffiness and awful zany 'youth' nonsense.
posted by Acheman to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You could technically listen to German TV. Most stations have streaming archives with most of their program covered, so you can pick out things that interest you.

For example, here is the stream page of RTL. Unless it's some show you have to pay for, it works if you are not in Europe. All shows are free for 7 days after airing. Same for the sister networks, RTL 2 and VOX. There are other networks where everything is free and interrupted by commercials (Pro 7, Sat 1), but I haven't tested those from other countries. All RTLs work fine from the US, UK and Australia.

Here's Vox, Pro 7 and Sat 1.
posted by MinusCelsius at 4:52 AM on October 4, 2012

Not sure if it's exactly what you're looking for, but I recommend Mensch, Otto! - Mensch, Theile! from Bayern 3. They usually have an interview (45 to 60 minutes) each weekday, and I find many of the people there quite interesting. They have authors, CEO of big companies, actors, musicians, and often "normal" people to whom something extraordinary happened.

I listen to a lot of podcasts on my commute, and This American Life and Mensch, Otto! - Mensch, Theile! are my favourites.

Also, check out the hundreds of podcasts from the BBC - they offer some in foreign languages. I haven't checked if they've got German ones, but it's worth a look.
posted by amf at 5:44 AM on October 4, 2012

Response by poster: I'm in the UK, by the way. A lot of the TV on RTL looks like excruciating reality TV or else dubbed US shows that the site tells me I can't access from here. Do you have any advice for wading through the mounds of tv to find something that's worth watching and is accessible from the UK? 'Bauer sucht Frau' isn't filling me with enthusiasm here.
posted by Acheman at 5:47 AM on October 4, 2012

IIRC, This American Life is quite high on the iTunes podcast charts in Germany, so switching to the German iTunes store and looking for podcasts might not be a great option.

Along with what MinusCelsius said, the ARD and ZDF media players work overseas. Some sports are region-locked, but you would expect that. RTL actually does region-lock some programs, but I never figured out what the rule is.

Unfortunately, as you seem to have discovered, German news broadcasts are not that interesting and they're the easiest things to find as podcasts. Here's the WDR radio play and documentary page. The other regional broadcasters have similar pages. (The word you want to google is Hörspiel, as the documentaries usually live on the same page.) ARD has a handful of podcasts, but there's nothing that really stands out. ZDF has video podcasts of a number of the talk shows. podcasts.de tells me Quarks & Co. exists as a video podcast. Their charts are all topped by downloads from the broadcasters, though.

There's also Radio Tatort, but it doesn't really rank as easy to follow.

Sorry, this is a long way to say that I never really solved this problem. The thing I hit on was to watch soap operas instead of the news. They can be fairly spectacularly cheesy (though I suppose you might argue that's a feature), but it's 25 minutes every day (unless there's a major sporting event being broadcast, pretty much) of something that more closely approximates actual German conversation than newsreaders do.
posted by hoyland at 5:47 AM on October 4, 2012

Yeah, RTL is fairly terrible. Alarm für Cobra 11 is a cop show that should be available. Alles was zählt and Unter Uns are the RTL soap operas and should be available. (They have Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten too, but I think it's subscription only.) I think that's pretty much what's left when you cross all the dubs and the reality shows off the list.

Staying away from the commercial broadcasters is probably the way to go. There's still crap on ARD and ZDF, but they've got some programs of substance at least.
posted by hoyland at 5:55 AM on October 4, 2012

Alas, German radio is not very good, so I can't help you much. There is no program as well known as "TAL" or NPR's flagship programs. The way to go is to listen to the public radio stations because their quality is vastly better than their commercial equivalents. There are a fair number of them, and they're well-funded. Roughly, each German state has a public radio company with a number of stations. In addition, there is the federal station Deutschlandfunk with its subsidiaries Deutschlandradio Kultur and DRadio Wissen. These federal stations are probably of most interest to you. But you may also find interesting programs in some of the regional stations.

Deutschlandfunk has a number of podcasts. The quality is decent, but mostly not fanastic. For this reason, I mostly listen to BBC's Radio 4 instead :( Still, there are some interesting interviews, reports, etc. I can't recommend anything in particular. You should try some of the programs and see if there's anything you like.

As for TV, definitely have a look at Arte, a French-German station with fantastic program which no one watches. Arte Radio only seems to broadcast in French.
posted by faustdick at 6:31 AM on October 4, 2012

RTL morning/afternoon is horrible, yes. It's celeb magazines, soaps (though, to be fair, one of the most successful and popular soaps) and scripted reality.

However, they also have some decent comedy shows, which fit your criteria of easy language and entertaining, and they are free.
In this section, it's only news and "people talking about their life". A lot is regional and probably not interesting to you in this section though.

Vox has a reputation to be not as trashy as the other RTL branches (RTL 2 is known to air Big Brother and similar reality TV; Super RTL is mostly series - they have some comedy worth to try and not much else). On the Vox page, you can select by genre under "Serien & Shows", where you just evade "Show/Magazine" (translates as X Factor and celeb mags, unless you're into cars; their car magazine is the only one not focussed on celebs) and find categories like Doku(mentary).

Pro 7 has the excellent comedy Switch, Galileo is sometimes worth to watch (it's officially a science magazine, but very very low brow most of the time), TV Total as comedy/late night.

Sat 1 has Harald Schmidt as late night talk, Anke Engelke (Ladykracher & Ladyland are her shows) and Bastian Pastewka and the improv Schillerstraße for comedy.

If you are looking to improve your German vocabulary, you may want to check out the game/quiz shows - Wer wird Millionär? (RTL), Schlag den Raab (Pro 7) and Genial daneben (Sat 1).
posted by MinusCelsius at 6:46 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also found this in my bookmarks. It's an archive for documentaries and reports only, aimed at the use in schools. They have some interesting stuff, and some boring stuff. Depends on what you consider entertaining, I guess. It's sorted by school subjects, so I would expect the more interesting things for your criteria in the social sciences.
posted by MinusCelsius at 6:51 AM on October 4, 2012

I listen to Couch Potatoes once in a while, and it's enjoyable enough.
posted by plantbot at 9:43 AM on October 4, 2012

I don't know any of the podcasts you mentioned in your question, but Bambule and others on that site tagged "ZDF Neo" are very un-RTL.
posted by small muffin collider at 10:31 AM on October 4, 2012

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